Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse is so Important

by Gary Bowman on July 11th, 2012

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12.18

A good word for someone like me who likes to tease, sometimes too much.

A good word for people like me who sometimes speak before thinking.

A good word for those of us who occasionally let our emotions wag our tongues.

Rash talk cuts and maims.

But there is healing and nurture in wise words.

Nowhere is this more true than in our marriages.

Michael Hyatt

Eric Kayla, one of our good elders, pointed me the way of Michael Hyatt’s blog. (Thanks Eric!) Michael is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher. He’s a good guy, with some great ideas about life and leadership.

He’s written well about the words we use when speaking about our spouse. Words that can damage a marriage, or words that can enhance one another.

Enjoy, and ask God to help you put into practice, his blog:

As a leader, the health of your marriage directly affects the impact of your leadership. I have witnessed this time and time again. Being effective at work or in ministry begins by being effective at home.

Early in our marriage, Gail and I attended a church led by a dynamic, thirty-something pastor. He was an extraordinary communicator. He was a wise and empathetic counselor. As a result, the church grew rapidly.

But as we got better acquainted with him and his wife, we started noticing a disturbing trend in the way they related to one another. They would often make disparaging remarks about the other in public.

At first, it seemed cute. Their comments seemed playful and humorous. Everyone laughed. But over time, they became more and more pointed, thinly masking their frustration with one another.

We ultimately left that church. But several years later we learned they suffered an ugly divorce, both admitting to multiple affairs. They lost their family, and, of course, their ministry. To this day, it grieves me to think about it.

Conversely, I noticed that Sam Moore, my predecessor at Thomas Nelson, always spoke highly of his wife. He would often say, “I hate to leave her in the morning, and I can’t wait to see her in the evening.” They have been married now for nearly 60 years. Last time Gail and I were with them, they were holding hands. It was obvious they were still in love.

In reflecting on these two experiences, I am convinced that praising your spouse in public is one of the most important investments you can make—in your family and in your leadership. This is important for at least five reasons:

couples hands

1. You get more of what you affirm. Have you ever noticed that when someone praises you, you want to repeat the behavior that caused it? This is just human nature. It can be a form of manipulation if it isn’t genuine. But it can be a powerful way to motivate others when it is authentic.

2. Affirmation shifts your attitude toward your spouse. Words are powerful tools. They can create, or they can destroy. They can build up, or they can tear down. I believe most people have a drive to align their actions—and their attitudes—with their words. If you start speaking well of someone, you start believing what you say.

3. Affirmation helps strengthen your spouse’s best qualities. Encouragement is also a powerful force for good. All of us need positive reinforcement. This is why when we are losing weight and people notice, it gives us the strength to stick with the program. This is true in every area of life.

4. Affirmation wards off the temptation of adultery. When others see you are happily married, they are less likely to proposition you. It’s like a hedge that protects your marriage from would-be predators. You simply stop being a target.

5. Affirmation provides a model to those you lead. To be a truly effective leader, you must lead yourself, and then you must lead your family. Your marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. When you speak highly of your spouse, your followers are more likely to trust you. It takes your leadership to another level.

Affirming your spouse in public is an investment that pays big leadership dividends. In a world where fewer and fewer marriages last, it can be a difference-maker.

How have you seen this played out in the lives of those who have led you? How have you seen it modeled well? What words or attitudes do you love to hear your spouse say about you in public? What is a practical step you can take this week to affirm you spouse publicly?

Share your thoughts and ideas with us.

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